By: Airika Tyler
I have always been fascinated by the intersection of law and business. At first blush, it may seem counterintuitive to suggest that the acquisition of a law degree could make someone a better businessman or businesswoman—after all, legal skills are supposed to center around statutes, regulations, court judgments, and the like, whereas business skills focus on shifting markets, consumer demand, and the ability to turn a quick profit. Nevertheless, I think that the pursuit of a law degree could make me a better businesswoman if I choose to pursue that path in the future.
Owning oil rights is something that has always been a far-fetched dream of mine. While the ultimate dream is to someday own a series of Taco Bell franchises, I would happily enjoy receiving the business training necessary to bid on oil rights sometime in the future. My basis for this is simple: oil is very interesting, tons of people invest in it, and the oil industry is never going to go away until we run out of resources and by that time there will be an alternative that the oil industry will own as well (that’s just my opinion). Anyway, having a legal background will make it easier for me to pursue my dreams in the oil field.
You may remember that two months ago I did my blog post on the hardships and perseverance of Charlie Munger, the right-hand man of Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway. Well, when Charlie was in his 30's, he met on the golf course with an energy entrepreneur that was seeking to purchase the rights to some oil and natural gas properties that the British firm Royal Dutch Shell was seeking to discard. Well, because Charlie Munger was a lawyer, he knew what was the best way to structure the oil bidding deal so that it would be the most tax efficient while always limiting the downside if the oil purchases failed. So what Munger did was this: he structured the oil assets in an ABC Trust so that he could use bypass tax exemption to take advantage of the look-through profit potential that commodity investing can offer. Here is the best part of the story: Munger only invested $5,000 into the project, and 45 years later, that project generates $2,000-$3,000 in MONTHLY wealth for the Munger family. While I do not expect that a law degree will allow me to reap business successes of that magnitude, I do believe I can learn from Munger in using a law education to further potential business interests after graduation.
A law degree is more versatile than one may initially assume. The best part of my 1L experience so far has been learning and modifying my critical thinking skills so that I can attack a fresh problem from many different angles, and through robust analysis and research, reach a proper conclusion. While that skill set has generally been applied to Torts, Contracts, Property, etc. so far, I do believe that the legal education that I am receiving at SIU Carbondale will provide me with the skill set necessary to be a successful businesswoman in the future if I choose to pursue that path.